Dev Patel: 5 things to know about the Oscar nominee

Dev Patel is nominated for best supporting actor for his role in "Lion."

ByABC News
February 16, 2017, 7:41 AM

— -- Dev Patel calls his role in the Oscar-nominated film “Lion,” “the most nourishing thing I’ve been able to dive into.”

"For a British-Indian guy, roles like this are few and far in between, if not never. This really, when I read it, was such a profound script," Patel said on ABC News’ “Popcorn with Peter Travers.” "I was just a puddle of tears. I just hoped one day those words could, you know, move past my lips."

Patel plays Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his brother in India at the age of 7 while scavenging for food on a train. The film follows Brierley’s true-life journey of tracking down his birth mother.

Patel said he had to jump through hoops for the role, for which he is nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Here are five things to know about the Oscar-nominated actor.

1. His mom is the reason he got into acting

Patel said his mom would take the train to and from work, and on one day during her commute, she saw an advertisement for a casting call.

"She tore it out and didn’t tell me until the day before. And she’s like, 'Alright, by the way, we’re bunking school tomorrow. I want to take you to this thing,'" Patel recalled.

2. His first big break was the UK television series, 'Skins'

The audition to which his mother ended up taking him was for the British teen TV drama, “Skins.”

"We turned up and there [were] all these drama students doing their vocal warm ups. And I’m in my uniform with my mom," he recalled. "I was like, 'Ugh.' And that’s how I got into it."

Patel was cast as Anwar Kharral, a Muslim teen, and the role was written specifically for him.

3. He struggled to find work after 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Though he rose to international stardom for his role as Jamal Malik in the 2008 Oscar-winning film, “Slumdog Millionaire,” Patel said he struggled to find work afterwards.

"There’s been times after 'Slumdog [Millionaire],' where I looked out and there wasn’t a sea of roles," Patel said.

"There wasn’t anything, and I wasn’t working," he said. "I just stepped off this red carpet, surrounded by all these amazing actors and Oscar winners and there was nothing."

4. He admits that he has faced typecasting as an actor

Patel said that he feels typecasting -- whether by looks or race -- is a reality that he and other actors constantly face.

"You see it changing," he said, "but sometimes you just want to work. You want to keep the lights on and pay the rent."

5. He underwent intense preparation for his role in 'Lion'

In order to play Saroo Brierley, Patel trained physically, grew out his hair and went through dialogue coaching to perfect an Australian accent.

"I called up my manager and I was like, 'For the next eight months, I don’t want any distractions. I don’t want you to send me any other work or anything. I want to commit every fiber of my being to get this journey right. This script demands it. And Saroo and the family, they deserve it,'" Patel said.

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